Saturday, March 17, 2012

Have We Hit The Bottom? No, But We Can See It From Here.

In my post on October 26, 2011, I look did a round up of all of the tablets that are or will be available soon and what this will mean for education.  In January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, ASUS announced that they would be releasing  a 7" Ice Cream Sandwich tablet.  The ASUS MeMo 370t was a 7" tablet with a quad core processor and a $250 price tag.  As a Director of Technology for a medium-sized suburban school district, I saw this as a device that could realistically make 1 to 1 computing in our district a reality.  The video below is a review of the MeMo 370 from CNET.  The other major features of this device are that there micro-USB, micro-SD and micro-HDMI.  This will allow you to connect this device with off the shelf cables.  This is a huge departure from the iPad, where any device you want to connect to it, requires a "dongle" that carries an extra cost, typically $30.  As a District Director of Technology, managing proprietary dongles, on top of cables, is not something I want to do.

Since that time there have been several rumors about different devices from the Mobile World Congress held earlier this month.  One of the things that was missing, was more mention of the ASUS MeMo 370t. Yesterday, the absence of the ASUS MeMo 370t were answered.  A variety of different media sources started to report that Google has stepped in to support the 7" tablet project by ASUS and rebranded it the "Nexus Tablet."  The best part of all of the reports that have been published yesterday was that the price, instead of $250, has dropped to between $149 - $199.  This now brings the price of the tablet down to a price where schools can purchase this device, the digital textbooks for students to use with the device and save money in the process.  The best part of this is that this device is not just an "e-reader."  First of all, this device will have a camera that will function as a still and video camera.  There are photo and video editing applications already on the machine. Because it is on the Android platform, it already has tight integration with Google Apps, which will run "natively," instead of in another wrapper, like the way they do on an iPad.  This means that Google Apps will run on this device, like they do on your computer, without any extra integration.  Personally, we proved this the other night when we were able to use the full scripting function in Google Spreadsheets on an Android tablet.

OK, we have made the case that this tablet can and will provide all of the functionality necessary for a true 1 to 1 device.  We need to make the monetary case for purchasing these devices in a way where it is actually going to save school districts money. Most schools have a seven year text book adoption cycle.  This means that they purchase new textbooks for their students every seven years. In a high school, with students taking 6-7 classes, with potentially 5 text books issued to them at an average cost of $100 each.  Most of the "digital text books" that have been brought to market are sold at an average cost of $15 each.  If you used a simple equation of 5 books, at $100 each, equals a $500 cost for that student.  We know that  these books need to last for seven years and more than likely we will go through two tablets in that time frame. Therefore, 5 digital text books at $15 per book, equals $75.  If we purchase two tablets in that time frame, $150 x 2, equals $300.  Adding those two pieces together, $75 for books and $300 for two tablets, gives us a total cost of $375 and a $125 savings.

My only question now is why are we waiting.

If you have comments, questions, issues, etc. PLEASE send them to me.